The following interview was sent by Irene Hause to me. She knew a lot of oldtime bodybuilders like Mike Mentzer and Ed Giuliani. Big thanks!
AN EXCLUSIVE, EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW with ED GIULIANI
by Irene [L.] Hause
Photos by Tim Kopack
Volume 3, Number 9
He’s been around the sport of bodybuilding for twenty-five years, so he definitely has a lot to say. And, he’s one man who isn’t afraid of telling it like it is!
Eddie Giuliani has been involved with bodybuilding a long time, 25 years to be exact. He’s been both Mr. Eastern and Mr. Western America, Jr. Mr. America, and a middleweight-class winner in the Mr. America and Mr. World competitions. Now, at age 45, when many other men are feeling the pangs of mid-life crisis, Eddie is training for the upcoming Mr. Universe contest.
A man who is comfortable with himself, it doesn’t bother Eddie to wear a tank top and shorts when he’s not in peak condition. He speaks openly on everything from steroids to women’s bodybuilding to his 20-year-friendship with Joe Weider. Friendly and outgoing, Eddie gives candid, direct, and unambiguous answers to questions. Bodybuilders aren’t described as “ripped,” “awesome,” or “vascular.” A guy either has “lumps” or he doesn’t have “lumps.” It’s that simple. He doesn’t discuss diets either — Eddie eats “good, wholesome food.” Period.
Eddie’s skill at woodworking is evident throughout the home he shares with his wife, Mary Jane, and their 19-year-old daughter, Andrea, in Venice, California. Another daughter, 23-year-old Maria, is married and lives in nearby Playa del Rey. The hospitable atmosphere of Eddie and Mary Jane’s home is a reflection of the warm and supportive relationship they have shared over 25 years of marriage. Their many friends, including such greats as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu, are frequent guests.
MUSCLE UP: What’s “over the hill” in bodybuilding?
ED GIULIANI: Over the hill used to be at 40. For some reason, it was very depressing for people to say, “I’m 40.” But that’s not true anymore. Today every physique show across the country includes an Over-40 event which draws quite a few contestants. The reason for this is that people have become more sophisticated in nutrition and training, plus they have more leisure time to work out as they get older.
MU: Is there any special secret that keeps you in competition shape at 45?
EG: Dedication! It’s the love for the sport, the love for what you’re doing. As in any sport, when it’s continued from your youth, you can maintain a lot of it as you grow older. But I don’t think a guy at thirty-five can break into any sport and then at forty-five look good. That would be very hard, because the basic foundation has to be laid when you’re young, and then carried on. I started to train at 20, and I kept training. I never tired of the sport. Those who did are those who are not looking good anymore. They either took layoffs or they dropped out, maybe because of injuries or sickness, then tried to come back and never made it. After a certain age, and I don’t know exactly what it is, you just can’t come back. You can take a three- or four-year layoff in your 20s and bounce back, but it’s very hard to bounce back after 35. The muscles just won’t grow that fast; they won’t respond. The metabolism has slowed down, and the testosterone level — that builds the muscle in the male — is dropping all the time, every year. So the muscles just don’t have that fullness and roundness anymore.
MU: What title means the most to you?
EG: New York City. It was the hardest for me to win, and took me the longest. The New York State title was a big feather in my cap too, because I was born in New York. I always tell guys today,
“Wherever you were born, you’ve got to win that state.”
You can’t ever run away from where you were born and raised and then win the state where you’re now residing. You’ve got to go back and do it. For some reason, it just burns in the head: it just works. I’ve never known a great bodybuilder who hasn’t won at home first. Franco Columbu, Mr. Italy, born and raised there; Arnold, Mr. Germany, Mr. Austria; Frank Zane, Mr. Pennsylvania, where he was born; Larry Scott won Mr. Salt Lake City where he was born. Dave Draper won Mr. New Jersey, then came out here. Robby Robinson, Mr. Florida. You have more motivation when you come out here knowing that you have that under your belt. I came to California in 1969.
MU: Do you find working out monotonous or boring?
EG: No. I’ve always found it to be just a way of life.
John Grimek, the daddy of bodybuilding, said,
“Never look at going to the gym as even working out. Just think of it as eating every day. Nobody complains. And sleeping. Nobody complains. Don’t complain about going to the gym, because the weights will never feel sorry for you!”
MU: How have you changed your workouts over the years?
EG: Workouts don’t have to be longer, heavier, or harder as you get older, but they do have to be more intense — done faster, with less rest between sets. As a person ages, his metabolism slows down. Because of this, body fat accumulates easier. So for a man to stay muscular or for a woman to stay firm, you have to burn more. You could even say to yourself, “Where did this seven pounds come from? I eat no more than I did when I was 25!” It comes because your system slowed down inside. The only way you are going to compensate for that is to burn more. In any way. It doesn’t even have to be exercise. It could be on your job, putting in more hours. It could be getting up an hour earlier in the morning — little tricks like that.
MU: Has your employment always been somehow connected with bodybuilding?
EG: I never made a living in bodybuilding until three years ago, when Joe Gold offered me my present job as manager of World Gym. I’m an electrician by trade, and I had my own electrical contracting business back East.
I turned professional last year too, and I’ve always placed in the money in every contest, but that’s not enough. Only the winner is in the big money.
MU: What major bodybuilders are training at World Gym right now?
EG: Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Dennis Tinerino, Danny Padilla, Ed Corney, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are associated completely with World Gym. Then there are the bodybuilders who train at both Gold’s and World. Samir Bannout, Kent Keuhn, Tom Platz, and Lou Ferrigno are among them. The reason they train at both — and I don’t blame them — is that there is a different atmosphere. It could drag your head, going to the same gym every day when the next gym is only blocks away. It’s magic — the two most popular gyms in the world only six blocks apart, and the original Muscle Beach Gym is in between!
MU: What are the basic differences between World Gym and Gold’s Gym?
EG: I think they are two great gyms, and I trained at Gold’s for years. I was offered a job at World, and that’s why I’m there. Both gyms have magic. I think you need two gyms to keep both gyms on their toes.
Joe Gold insists on no music at World Gym. There’s music at Gold’s. World Gym is more tranquil, quieter. Gold’s has a younger element with quite a few kids training there. We don’t have anybody under 18 training at World. Gold’s is not as tidy. And the only women who can train at World are women who are serious competitive bodybuilders. We don’t have the spa women; we don’t have women coming in to lose weight.
Joe Gold always said this, and Joe was the one who started the whole thing with heavy-duty equipment in the bodybuilding gyms: “When a person comes in the gym to work out, that’s what he does. He doesn’t pay to listen to music, and he doesn’t pay to look at some girl’s ass. He doesn’t pay to train in a gym where the rug is pretty and the dumbbells are pink. That has nothing to do with what he gets out of it. We shouldn’t create a country-club atmosphere, because they’ll spend too much time here, and that’s no good. A bodybuilder should do his job and get out.”
MU: Where do you stand on the free weights vs. machines controversy?
EG: Years ago everything was dumbbells and barbells. Then machines started coming out. Cables came first, then Nautilus, machines with pulleys, negative resistance on them, where the negative side of the movement is heavier than the positive side. All of it helps. It can’t hurt. But, the foundation has to be laid with the iron because you are restricted in a machine. You don’t have natural body movement. I think that machines are good for a little frosting on the cake, but I think that dumbbells and barbells – free weights – are here to stay.
MU: How do you feel about diets?
EG: Never think of a diet as a diet! Just think of it as your program of eating good, wholesome food. And that’s it. You shouldn’t think of it as “doing something.” Because then, all of a sudden, you start to get a pissed-off attitude: you don’t want to do it. People are at a party, but it’s always tomorrow when they start their diet. That sets off something in your head so that you can’t stand tomorrow. That’s bad, very bad to think like that. You’ve killed it already. You’re just going to change your eating habits tomorrow, and you have to find a way that you can be happy eating certain foods.
Bodybuilders find it easy to say that you should eat health foods and stop smoking and drinking. But ask them to see if they can stop working out. They’re hooked on training! See if they could stop training. They can’t! It would be nicer to say, “Cut it down a little bit.” Everybody can do that.
MU: What would you tell a beginning bodybuilder to look for in a gym?
EG: Well, I would advise him to stay away from the spas. For some reason, I’ve never seen anybody who goes to the spas really make I big. You can’t even work up a heavy sweat because the air conditioning is turned too high. I would definitely gear him toward the local YMCA. That’s where I started. When you’re handling heavy iron – and the only way you’re going to get big muscles is by pushing yourself to handle heavy iron – a lot of times it’s going to fall when you put it down, and it’s doing to make noise. Drop a weight? You can’t in a spa. And if you always want to put the weight down like you’re in some sort of library, then you’re never going to extend yourself enough for the muscles to grow. You’ve got to growl, you’ve got to grind and grunt and spit, and whatever you’ve got to do, do. That’s where I think the YMCAs have it over the spas.
MU: What is the biggest fault in young bodybuilders today?
EG: No patience! He wants to do it quick, wants to finish it, get in and out of the gym, looking for an easy way, looking for a secret, looking for the steroid trip to bring him all the way through where he’s going to go. They don’t want to put their dues in. People who want things right away also get disgusted at things faster. That’s what they lack that years ago fellows had. They had more patience, they were willing to wait a little longer. Not today. Today everyone wants to go faster. The credit-card society. They ask, “You mean in three years I can’t win Mr. California?” And I say, “Nobody knows how much effort you are going to put into it!”
MU: What one thing would you advise a beginning bodybuilder never to do?
EG: Never set a goal for yourself, because no one knows where you’re going in this sport. Don’t put a title or a deadline in your head. Just play it by ear, day to day. Let me give you an example. Some bodybuilders say, “Wednesday is my heavy day.” And I look at them and laugh. You get up on Wednesday morning, and your head is dragging already because you’re saying to yourself, “Today is my heavy day in the gym.” That scares you already! Now your nervous system is shot because you’re burning energy thinking that when you go to the gym today, it’s your heavy day. Then you get to the gym, and the iron you want to move doesn’t move. Now you’re really pissed off, and that whole workout does no good. You might as well have stayed home. Maybe during tomorrow’s workout, which is supposed to be a light day, you’ll still thinking, “How did I mess up like that yesterday?” It’s because you didn’t get up on the right side of the bed – we have cycles in life, you know – and that’s it! And what if you feel like going heavy on Tuesday? Are you going to hold yourself back because it’s not your heavy day? That’s nuts! You’ve got to take advantage of those good days! I go to the gym and put the iron in my hand and if it feels like I want more, I put more on. If it feels that it’s a bad day – and it could be a bad day for three days – you just have to go along with that. Like Frank Zane always says, “I have no time to waste in the gym. Every day when I go to the gym to train, I get the most out of the gym that I can on that particular day. Some guys set certain rules and schedules for themselves that scare me! You have to be a little more loose, more flexible.”
MU: What one inherent physical quality gives a bodybuilder a distinct advantage?
EG: Height! Bodybuilding is a big man’s game. I can say that, because I’m not a big man. I’m five-feet-five. No great short man can beat a great tall man. Not on stage. Because a big man has the advantage that he can hold more muscle and more body weight. He’s stretched out more, not so condensed. What happens when the big short man starts to get very, very big is that he starts to look shorter. Take Danny Padilla, for example. I tell him he’s looking shorter every year because he’s getting nine feet wide! Only one short guy ever won the Olympia – Franco –and it took five years of failures to win that one year.
MU: If you took a group of top bodybuilders ten years ago and compared them with those now, what would be the major difference?
EG: Hang-ups! Years ago all bodybuilders, including me, had hang-ups. They would never take a glass of wine where anybody could look at them and say, “You drink!” They never had a cigarette if they smoked. Years ago bodybuilders used to go around bragging about how they didn’t have sex. “Hey, listen, all that sexual drive – I sublimate it! That’s why I look great, and that’s how I got all the energy to train!” Now we realize that it doesn’t hurt you or hold you back. It’s a relief; it’s like a valve letting some of the tension out. It doesn’t hurt you in strength! You know what hurts you in strength? If you have sex and stay up all night!
And there’s another thing bodybuilders didn’t have years ago; none of them had personalities. They all were withdrawn, introverted. Back then I never met a bodybuilder whose company I enjoyed. The guys I liked weren’t bodybuilders. I wouldn’t hang out with bodybuilders because to me they were boring. They did nothing in life, and they were always scared, scared! They wore long-sleeved shirts in the summer!
MU: What bodybuilder surprised you the most by making it to the top?
EG: There were so many that I can’t single anyone out! But I’ll say that no bodybuilder ever made it to the top that came from a wealthy family. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t think of anybody. It happens only when they’re hungry enough for recognition, self-esteem, power, or prestige that they can’t get some other way. Because bodybuilding is from the mind. You develop a body from the mind. You could lift all the iron you want, be in the gym every day, but if your head isn’t there controlling the muscles, it doesn’t work. That’s why, of the 500 guys who have trained at World Gym over the three years I’ve been working there, only a handful made it. I give them all the credit in the world for reporting to the gym every day like a job, but they never really get the most out of it. They do the routines I give them; they watch the stars train; they do the same routines; they ask questions; they know what to eat. Why don’t they have the “lumps?” Because the head is not working, and they don’t even know it. No one can teach you that. When you pick up a barbell and curl for your biceps, if you’re not curling from your brain, from your mind, the muscles won’t grow. The muscle will pick up the weight, but they won’t grow.
MU: If you had to pick a bodybuilder who seemed to have the easiest road to success, who would it be?
EG: I never knew him personally, but the one who comes to mind right off is Steve Reeves. He came from Oakland, California, so he was born in the sunshine. He wasn’t born in a rat race, so he wasn’t nervous and high-strung like most of them are who come from big cities. His mother was a fanatic for nutrition, and that couldn’t do anything but help. I think he was a natural. Joe Gold and Zabo Kowsewski, who used to train with him, told me that Steve would “smell” weights and grow muscles. Plus, he was the most handsome. When he walked on the beach, Joe Gold said, even with his shirt on and wearing a pair of dark glasses, a crowd followed him. There was something about him, a magic, an aura, a charisma. Steve Reeves had black, natural curly hair, square cheekbones, perfect teeth, and blue eyes. He was 6-feet, 1 inch tall, with a small waist, big wide shoulders, and he was not overdone muscularly, like the guys today: he looked great even in clothes – there you go. He was one in a million!
MU: We know that bodybuilding has really had an upsurge in popularity lately. Why?
EG: The women did it! Whenever women become involved in anything, it shows up in the public eye. Women have that power. Any good politician always looks for the women’s vote. Women can sway their husbands. You know the power they have! That’s why women’s bodybuilding, in this short period of time, has received this much notoriety. Male bodybuilders, in all these years, never got as much play in the news media as women got in one year. The media cover every one of the women’s bodybuilding shows. You have to beg them to come to the men’s. Women’s bodybuilding will pull men’s bodybuilding right along with it, and they’ll drive it to the moon!
MU: Why do you thing the media take so much interest in bodybuilders’ use of steroids?
EG: The media have to have some sport to condemn for steroid use, because sooner or later, as everybody knows, if it gets out of hand, people are going to start getting sick. They’re condemning bodybuilders for using steroids, but they never talk about the other sports that use them. And the reason for this is that there’s not enough money in the game for people to respect it as much, because in this country, the more money a sport has, the more respect it has. It’s not how good your people are, it’s the money. Football, baseball, basketball, all have big money behind them. That’s why they’re well respected, because they’re on TV a lot. We haven’t got that recognition yet. One day, if we ever do, you’ll see that all of a sudden people won’t ask about the steroid trip as much.
As far as using them, a lot of bodybuilders use them. As far as working, I think they do work. I don’t care that the manufacturer says on the little label, “This will not enhance athletic ability.” That’s bull! It works. I’ve seen it work. But what happens is that some athletes will wonder, “Is more, better?” And that’s like a kid who grabs a bottle of wine and drinks it all. But an adult who knows a little more will drink three glasses, and if he starts to feel a little tipsy, he knows enough to stop. But you’ll always get a bunch of bodybuilders who will say, “If three pills make me look this good, then six might make me look better.” And it backfires. It’s just like being overtrained. If you can become Mr. America with three hours a day in the gym, maybe by doubling it you would look twice as good. It doesn’t work that way!
MU: Is there anything positive in the future of steroids?
EG: I feel that if steroids were ever put under a controlled program, really controlled, not only could they help the bodybuilder, but they might help the general population as well. It’s not a wonder drug, but I think it’s like a sophisticated vitamin.
MU: So you don’t think shows like Chet Yorton’s Mr. Natural America will go very far?
EG: In my opinion, that’s controlling someone’s personal life. Chet Yorton is a very good friend of mine, by the way. I asked him once, “Why don’t you condemn people who eat meat? Say only vegetarians can enter your show!” I guess if all promoters got together and banned steroids, then it might work, but I think Chet is fighting a losing battle.
MU: What is your general impression of the worldwide organization of bodybuilding?
EG: The AAU/IFBB is the only game in town, as far as I’m concerned. You have to respect it for what it is. There’s prestige in winning the AAU Mr. America, because the AAU is hooked up to the Olympics.
MU: When you’re talking IFBB, you’re talking Joe Weider, aren’t you?
EG: You have to have the Joe Weiders. He at times appears to be a bodybuilding czar, and I don’t think he should have all that power. But you still have to have someone, and there isn’t someone better with a better deal. People say to me, “Eddie, why did you write for the Weider magazine for so many years and not someone else?” Because Joe Weider paid me. The others just talked. That’s the difference. I knew him when he was back in New Jersey in a little old office. I used to go there every Saturday morning to talk with him, do articles with him. I’ve known him for over twenty years.
And Joe Weider did a lot first. Joe sanctioned the biggest shows, he was the originator of the American IFBB, the World IFBB, and he was the first one to encourage bringing shows out of cesspools and putting them in places like Madison Square Garden. Nobody ever gave bodybuilders a dime directly for doing anything except Joe Weider. He was the first one who paid for airline tickets to bring in name contestants for IFBB contests. So whatever he did, he was the only game in town. He had the only organization. He has a love for bodybuilding, and his magazine is his whole life.
MU: What is your definition of playing politics in bodybuilding?
EG: Playing politics means playing ball with the organization that provides the greatest commercial potential. If you chose to play politics with either a large organization or a small organization, I think it would be pretty obvious that you would be losing with the small one. You’d be losing because the commercial potential is very limited with the small organization because you would get so much more exposure with the large one. That‘s the difference. It’s like Democrats or Republicans. How many presidents were ever elected if they weren’t Democrats or Republicans? If it’s the only game in town, you play it.
But to make it big commercially, a bodybuilder has to have the magic, a kind of charisma. Like Frank Zane said, “You sell a package to the audience. You don’t sell just one thing.” In any sport, the difference between making a commercial success of yourself is being more than just a great athlete. Mickey Mantle was a great athlete, but he was never a Joe Namath. Joe Namath has a flair about him. He first came up with the hair that stuck out of the helmet. Then he was Broadway Joe with the broads. Then he was into commercials. And he was funny!
MU: What is the reason so many bodybuilders are trying to get into show business?
EG: Because the bodybuilding you see on stage isn’t a sport. It’s more theatrical. I’ve always thought that. The audience doesn’t go to the gym; they go to a theater. They see the end product. They see no athletic ability on stage. The athletic ability is in the gym, because you have to have balance to lift iron, plus strength and speed for certain lifts and movements. So bodybuilding is really two different things – an art on stage, a sport in the gym. It’s not like boxing, for example, when you see a boxer in the ring who’s doing the same thing as when he trains. So I think the bodybuilding promoters are trying to sell bodybuilding as a sport, when it isn’t. It should go into show business. But of course the macho bodybuilder doesn’t want to hear that! It should go into big theatrical extravaganzas in Las Vegas! With women! That would really give it a shot in the arm!
MU: Where do you see Eddie Giuliani five years for now?
EG: I know that I’ll be working in bodybuilding, probably doing the same thing. But I would also like to have a very, very good mail order business going. I have never sold anything with my name on it in all the years that I’ve been in the game, except for some 8” x 10” photos when I do my seminars around the country. Also I have a publisher interested in putting a book together about all the things I think are true about bodybuilding.”
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